Dieting myths

Everyone wants to lose weight quickly and keep it off, and there are so many diets out there promising instant results.

There's even a diet falsely calling itself the British Heart Foundation Diet. However, this diet and many like it are just dieting myths.

On the bogus diet most people are likely to lose largely water and some muscle, rather than the fat they really want to shed.

Watch the bogus 'BHF diet' battle it out against the real thing...

Looking to lose weight? Order the BHF's guide to safe and sustainable weight loss.

Busting dieting myths

So, how do you tell the difference between a faddy crash diet and one which will help you lose weight at a sensible rate and keep it off?

Look out for the warning signs and beware of these common dieting myths:

Myth 1 - Skipping breakfast is a good way to lose weight

Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can make you feel tired and hungry and more likely to reach for high-fat, high-calorie snacks. In fact, people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those who don’t.

Myth 2 - Food restrictions

If you eat nothing but celery or oranges all day long for a week you will, of course, lose weight. But fad diets that drastically cut calories will quickly become boring and won’t be effective in the long run. It’s not necessary to starve to lose weight - making small changes that you can stick to is the key to long-term success.

Myth 3 - No treats

Depriving yourself of all the foods you enjoy won’t work. You’ll eventually give into temptation and abandon your efforts. There's no harm in allowing yourself a treat now and again.

Myth 4 - No eating past 8pm

It doesn’t matter when you eat if you are eating too much – a calorie is a calorie at any time of the day! It's healthier for your digestive system not to eat a heavy meal before you go to bed but a late dinner will not make you any fatter than an early one.

Myth 5 - Lose your belly fat / bingo wings / thunder thighs

As unfair as it may seem, we can’t pick and choose where we gain or lose weight from. When the body loses fat, it is lost throughout the body. Focusing on one area of the body when exercising may develop better muscle tone in that area but it will not remove more fat.

Myth 6 - Certain foods help you burn fat

No foods can actually help you to burn fat. The important thing is eating less calories (energy), rather than eating specific foods that are thought to have special properties.

Myth 7 - Carbs are fattening

It’s calories that count, and gram for gram carbohydrate has less than half the calories of fat. However, carbohydrate rich foods can be high in calories because of the fillings and toppings commonly added to them – such as creamy sauces on pasta and butter or cheese on baked potatoes. Some carbohydrate foods, especially wholegrain versions, are packed full of fibre which can keep hunger at bay. For example, wholegrain pasta is more filling than white pasta and will keep you satisfied for longer.

Myth 8 - No snacking

Eating healthy snacks between meals can actually help you to control your appetite. Fruit, vegetables, crudites and low fat yoghurt are great choices.

Myth 9 - Low fat only

Replacing fat with other ingredients can still result in a product with a high calorie content. Don’t be fooled – check the label. Quantity is also important – you won’t cut back on calories if you eat twice as much of a low fat product as a full fat one.

Myth 10 - Intense exercise regimes

Even low intensity exercise will help use up more calories. Walking, gardening or doing housework can make quite a difference.

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